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Child Protective Proceedings
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Child Custody: Child Protective Proceedings

What do you do when the state is trying to take custody of your children? You hire an attorney who will fight, hard, on your behalf from the start.

Parental rights litigation is not like divorce litigation. The courts have the power to take away your right to see your children, ever again. They can strip you of your parental rights, place your children for adoption, and bill your for the costs.

If the state has accused you of neglect or abuse, obtain an attorney. Even if the charges have been leveled against your former spouse, you need to make sure that your rights are protected.

When children are taken into foster care, sometimes social workers or prosecutors will tell parents that they don't need attorneys. That is almost never true. A parent who is represented by a good attorney will always benefit from the representation. Under most circumstances, representation is a necessity -- few parents can effectively argue their cases, or get a true grasp of what they need to do, in order to protect their parental rights.

These proceedings, unfortunately, are very expensive to litigate. Parents are often forced to borrow substantial sums of money in order to litigate against publicly funded prosecutors' offices. Parents who cannot afford counsel sometimes make the mistake of assuming that they should not ask for an appointed attorney, assuming that appointed attorneys will provide poor representation. Poor representation is usually better than none, and parents should typically hire counsel or request an appointed attorney at their earliest opportunity.

A good attorney will fight hard for you from the start. In Michigan, you can demand a jury trial to determine if the state should be able to take jurisdiction over your children. If you or your attorney don't meet the time limits for demanding a jury trial, you may lose that right.

Parental rights cases can be extremely demanding and emotionally difficult for parents, and also for their attorneys. Don't make it worse by trying to represent yourself.